Commander, Task Force 71 (CTF-71)
[Command and Coordination Force]
As the Navy entered heavy combat in Southeast Asia between 1965 and 1968, a chain of command evolved which reflected the complex character of the war. The primary objective of the Market Time coastal patrol was to prevent the enemy from strengthening his forces in South Vietnam through seaborne infiltration of supplies and munitions. During the first half of 1965, the Seventh Fleet operationally controlled the Vietnam Patrol Force (Task Force 71), the American component of the Market Time effort. The Naval Advisory Group, headquartered in Saigon, served as the liaison between the fleet, COMUSMACV, and the South Vietnamese Navy. The five U.S.- Vietnamese coastal surveillance centers set up at Danang, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and An Thoi coordinated actual operations. To improve mutual understanding and communication, U.S. and Vietnamese naval officers sailed in the vessels of the other service. On 31 July 1965, formal control of the American Market Time force passed from the Seventh Fleet to the Naval Advisory Group, which in turn activated the Coastal Surveillance Force (Task Force 115). The fleet continued to provide logistic and administrative support. The command function was further refined on 1 April 1966 when Naval Forces, Vietnam, was established, relieving the NAG of responsibility for Market Time operations. In addition, the naval support activities at Danang and Saigon took over logistic and administrative duties. The next year, in July, Commander Task Force 115 moved his headquarters from Saigon to Cam Ranh Bay.
On 14 April 1969 North Korean aircraft shot down an unarmed EC-121 propeller-driven Constellation which was on a routine reconnaissance patrol over the Sea of Japan from its base at Atsugi, Japan. The entire 31-man crew was killed. U.S. response was to activate Task Force 71 to protect such flights over those international waters in the future. Initially, the TF consisted of the carriers Enterprise, Ticonderoga, Ranger, and Hornet with cruiser and destroyer screens.
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